Self-taught polyglots

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I don't know if this is the right forum, please feel free to move it if so. But I have met quite a few polyglots here, many are self-taught, my question for you is how did you lean the language on your own? I'm especially imterested in people who learned languages with very little resources to learn the language on one's own. For example, I want to learn Japanese, Bulgarian, Croatian and Dutch but I'm just not sure if I have the means to go about learning something in my own, let alone people to practice with. Thoughts? Opinions? Advice? Anything is appreciated.

Moderator of the avant-garde
Joined: 05.04.2012

Well, in my case I was pushed because of my interest in learning. Most languages I know are similar to my native Portuguese, so in the beginning I compared lyrics in a foreign language to words in PT. That was accurate when the words were similar. I have bought some dictionaries (to be specific: French, Italian and Spanish ones) that helped me more.

LT also helped me understand some more of languages I wanted to know. Our members are very helpful and yes, one can learn a (new) language just by translating Wink smile

My advice: open a couple of requests, when they're complete try to get the translation's words by reading the words and listening to the song -if possible- as to check the pronunciation. Then check some online dictionaries or resources (http://lyricstranslate.com/en/resources). Then start doing translations by scratch - it's fine if you make some initial mistakes, just remember to request proofreading or ask for the help of native users. Listening to songs in the language may also help.

I can tell you that my Italian got really better after starting to translate and receiving feedback from our users.

Guest
Alma Barroca wrote:

Well, in my case I was pushed because of my interest in learning. Most languages I know are similar to my native Portuguese, so in the beginning I compared lyrics in a foreign language to words in PT. That was accurate when the words were similar. I have bought some dictionaries (to be specific: French, Italian and Spanish ones) that helped me more.

LT also helped me understand some more of languages I wanted to know. Our members are very helpful and yes, one can learn a (new) language just by translating Wink smile

My advice: open a couple of requests, when they're complete try to get the translation's words by reading the words and listening to the song -if possible- as to check the pronunciation. Then check some online dictionaries or resources (http://lyricstranslate.com/en/resources). Then start doing translations by scratch - it's fine if you make some initial mistakes, just remember to request proofreading or ask for the help of native users. Listening to songs in the language may also help.

I can tell you that my Italian got really better after starting to translate and receiving feedback from our users.

Wow, thank you. I'll check that out. It's hard for me to fathom learning a language just from stringing words you know together, I've seen people on here get really uptight about that, it's scary to me. But I suppose doing so is much easier if one is already familiar with the grammar of the language they're translating to

Moderator of the Balkans :)
Joined: 07.12.2012

I'd say translating to a foreign language requires a fairly good knowledge of grammar; I usually start translating from it to English, as it is easier.

As for me, I taught myself Albanian to around B1 level for roughly a year and a few months (I don't have much time to study it lately though). How? Lots of dedication, lots of researching - I know exactly what you mean by "rare languages". Start with YouTube videos, plenty of free courses are available online; Memrise is also really good for vocabulary building.

Now, it depends on what your style of learning a language is - so find it first and see whether you learn better by listening, the old fashioned writing, learning words and putting them together or something else. Listen to news, listen to music. Find resources/books and take it step by step. It's not something that happens overnight, so it takes lots of dedication Regular smile Find Facebook groups or other websites and meet other learners and natives - that helps enormously to keep you motivated too.

I've realized I'm better a learning at my own time/pace than taking courses; I also try to refresh my knowledge of languages I'm not using daily every few months.

Good luck Regular smile

Guest
CherryCrush wrote:

I'd say translating to a foreign language requires a fairly good knowledge of grammar; I usually start translating from it to English, as it is easier.

As for me, I taught myself Albanian to around B1 level for roughly a year and a few months (I don't have much time to study it lately though). How? Lots of dedication, lots of researching - I know exactly what you mean by "rare languages". Start with YouTube videos, plenty of free courses are available online; Memrise is also really good for vocabulary building.

Now, it depends on what your style of learning a language is - so find it first and see whether you learn better by listening, the old fashioned writing, learning words and putting them together or something else. Listen to news, listen to music. Find resources/books and take it step by step. It's not something that happens overnight, so it takes lots of dedication Regular smile Find Facebook groups or other websites and meet other learners and natives - that helps enormously to keep you motivated too.

Good luck Regular smile

Thank you for the advice. Do you think learning on your own was better than if you had learned in a formal setting like a class? Are there good YouTube videos for learning grammar out there? At least in my experience it's hard to get a good feel for a language's grammar when self-taught

Moderator of the Balkans :)
Joined: 07.12.2012

Haha, I just edited my previous post about that. Yes, I've taken courses in French and I struggled to keep myself motivated as it was at Uni and I had too much going on with my other subjects. But for me it's a personality thing too, I hate being told that "I have to" do anything. Plus, a class is full of people at different levels and with different styles, so I find it hard to keep myself motivated both in the cases when I'm moving faster or slower.

As for YouTube, I can't actually give you any advice regarding the languages you're interested in, but from what I've seen, the videos rarely cover excess grammar. Mainly it's what I call "a survival guide" - learning the basics at first, and then repeating them for pronunciation. If you want to learn the grammar, find some books in English for beginners, that is probably the best thing you can do in case you're interested particularly in that.

Guest

Thank you. Or I could pick languages to learn that wouldn't be super complicated Wink smile I'll see what kind of books and videos I can find, hopefully I can at least get good at one of the languages on my list.

Junior Member
Joined: 26.03.2017

When trying to learn a new language make an effort to include it in your life even when you don't feel like it. I downloaded some music on my iPod so that when I'm feeling lazy I can still learn. As you get better in a language start changing what you entertain yourself with. TV shows, books, Youtubers, it will be slow going at first, but will ultimately pay off. Good luck on your language learning journey!

Guest
Naja2018 wrote:

When trying to learn a new language make an effort to include it in your life even when you don't feel like it. I downloaded some music on my iPod so that when I'm feeling lazy I can still learn. As you get better in a language start changing what you entertain yourself with. TV shows, books, Youtubers, it will be slow going at first, but will ultimately pay off. Good luck on your language learning journey!

Thank you, Naja! I appreciate your advice! What languages do you have experience with if I may ask?

Senior Member
Joined: 12.07.2016

Learning multiple languages was not a very difficult task for me.
I am a Kashmiri, many people who have known a little deeper about Kashmiri know that the language changes with places, and isn't (yet) standardised(though Kashmiri of Srinagar is widely used). The language has a grammatical form much like Sanskrit and Persian(I'd say, both combined and altered simultaneously) but uses vocabulary from Persian, Arabic, Hindi, Russian, English, and Punjabi(all to some extent) with their localised vocabulary.
This quality allowed me learn all these languages with ease(and daily practice).
The Script is where I had to struggle for a very, Very, VERY long time. It took me about 8-10 weeks to read basic Persian Script, though Devanagari was an exception(because I started writing in Kashmiri with Sharda and later used Persian). I am still nowhere in Gurmukhi.
Russian came with a great practice, though I did knew much of the grammar, mastering it is a thing I still struggle at.
Japanese was one out-of-the-box thing I ever studied. This interest started with a film (it was B&W and I don't remember the name) in Japanese. So, I started primarily with grammar with first and then used Hiragana. The problem at my time was that most books were only able to give me English sentences in Japanese, Japanese alternatives were missing. Those books were good for others but I personally felt a bit trapped with them. So, I had to DIY a method to learn Japanese.

Method(only suitable for people who know little Hindi)
Take English sentences, phrases or words.
Translate them to Hindi. Change the grammatical structure to 2nd Phase( which is the same as used by Japanese)
Eg. My Translations of Butterfly by Kouji Wada is and example, Also in NEW LOOK by Namie Amuro, I used the same method and translated to English)

My Suggestions to people who aspire to learn multiple languages is that just give a try to study Hindi or a similar language with commonly used varied grammar. Once, you are able to, you can convert between many grammatical forms and use it as a converter/bridge.
Aliasing, many people refuse to use it but Aliasing is a very great method to learn languages and at the same time make relevance to them, though this doesn't always work but it is great for beginners.
Vocabulary analysis, this is by far the most important thing to learn a language, to analyse how people use words while commonly speaking the language. This helps people to understand better.

P.S. I haven't seem much of Kashmiri on this site but the first(Right to Left) part of my original name is in Kashmiri.( Which is Hindi but in Kashmiri Speech format in Persian Script)

Guest

Sakae, I've thought about Hindi but it's so unlike everything I'm familiar with that I don't think I could do it. I also struggle with learning new alphabets, I'm working very slowly on reading Cyrillic, devanagari is even more different, but so is Japanese.

I'm more worried about kanji with Japanese, though!

Senior Member
Joined: 12.07.2016

See, for Japanese, start like a kid. Learn and excel in Hiragana, Then alias hiragana words to Kanji(concentrate on order of strokes). Use the sound map of hiragana and alias it to Katakana characters but it is used for words that aren't Japanese.
Kanji was developed to counter the problem of homophones in Japanese, which is very common due to limited Sound Map. So, it particularly works on aliasing. You can alias anything for a Kanji, though this is not completely possible practically.

A Japanese would give you a better idea of Kanji, contact one if you can.

Guest

Thanks for the tips! It's a bit too late to start learning as a kid, haha. But I'm still young, so I don't have time to lose. Haha.

Editor (and) усталый старик
Joined: 11.10.2014

I like Naja2018's post - listening to song is an enormous help - especially on sound - and the only way to get enough vocabulary is to read and read and read some more (unless you are lucky and get the chance to listen, listen and listen some more in immersion situation).

Moderator — I'm A Goner
Joined: 10.07.2011
Agronak gro-Malog wrote:

Thanks for the tips! It's a bit too late to start learning as a kid, haha. But I'm still young, so I don't have time to lose. Haha.

I disagree on this. Learning as a kid would, is the best way to begin the learning process. But as you are no longer a kid, you are very likely to learn significantly faster Wink smile

Guest
michealt wrote:

I like Naja2018's post - listening to song is an enormous help - especially on sound - and the only way to get enough vocabulary is to read and read and read some more (unless you are lucky and get the chance to listen, listen and listen some more in immersion situation).

Well I could immerse myself through videos and whatnot. It shouldn't be too difficult. The only language I'm super worried about is Japanese

Guest
Geheiligt wrote:
Agronak gro-Malog wrote:

Thanks for the tips! It's a bit too late to start learning as a kid, haha. But I'm still young, so I don't have time to lose. Haha.

I disagree on this. Learning as a kid would, is the best way to begin the learning process. But as you are no longer a kid, you are very likely to learn significantly faster Wink smile

good because I'd like to learn fast Wink smile and actually be able to retain the information of course

Moderator of the Balkans :)
Joined: 07.12.2012

What I would recommend you is consistency - dedicate say 10 mins a day to study something related to that language (Memrise here is quite useful), whether it's understanding a song, learning new rule or new words, so that your mind doesn't forget it completely with the time, especially if you're not using that language on daily basis. I know it can be a challenge with everyone being busy, but it helps a lot to keep you "in form" Regular smile

Guest
CherryCrush wrote:

What I would recommend you is consistency - dedicate say 10 mins a day to study something related to that language (Memrise here is quite useful), whether it's understanding a song, learning new rule or new words, so that your mind doesn't forget it completely with the time, especially if you're not using that language on daily basis. I know it can be a challenge with everyone being busy, but it helps a lot to keep you "in form" Regular smile

Again, thank you! Regular smile I find listening to music for an hour or so a day helps me identify new words, I've learned a few words in Bulgarian just from music before Memrise or anything and I'm super excited that this is working

Junior Member
Joined: 26.03.2017

I am currently at(what I would call)a conversational level in German, I know a small amount of ASL, and began French around a month ago. I want to learn so many languages! But, I need to remind myself to be patient and not put to much on my plate. I am 16 and have plenty of time to become a polyglot. I don't know about you but languages make me so excited!

Guest

I'm 19 so I also have plenty of time, but it's patience and focus that I struggle with a bit. Good luck with your language endeavours Regular smile

Super Member
Joined: 06.02.2016

don't ever let anybody tell you "its impossible". in archery or hunting. if you don't aim high, you will go home without food ! if you struggle with hindi and the devanagari alphabet, let me tell you it's actually an easy alphabet, though at first it looks outlandish. much like hebrew, it is very structured and once you understand the laws, it's a gratifying language to learn.. russian cyrillic is challenging for me cause you can get no reading flow, due to the hard sign/soft sign , which i think should be banned completely.. but the russians love it, and if you look for an easier slavic language to start you off, there's plenty of in-betweens like ukranian, bulgarian, czech, or even polish that is written with our own roman alphabet. etc.

i have developed a list of ponies (learning aides) for the devanagari alphabet that work for me. if you shoot me your email on PM i'm gonna send it to you. when learning languages always stay flexible, work with what you have at hand. if you lack material. buy used dictionaries (collins, langenscheidt, pons) on ebay or flea markets. languages change very slowly. so 50 yr old books are still relatively new. (at least to me)

i have spent some time searching and have bought in the last half year about 30 small langenscheidt universal dictionaries for 2 bucks a pop, and about 10 bigger ones. the only thing i'm missing right now is swahili, chichewa, tagalog, and probably thai. otherwise i'm well covered in every possible language for altogether probably 50 bucks...

if you have no money at all but an internet connection. you can cut your breakfast cereal boxes in pieces and write words on them. writing is good for memorizing.

or go to your local world store (with asian, arab food) and collect the free magazines they have lieing around near the counter.. or dumpster dive near big train stations for daily tabloids in foreign languages.

i also highly recommend quizlet. if you're interested in joining my groups (i have uploaded a ton of stuff there) i can do it via PM as well.

I don't consider myself a polyglot, but wanna understand at least the basic structure of every common language..

have a blessed day..

St.Mark

Joined: 09.04.2017

I agree with a lot of what St. mark said.

Also, st mark, I collect Lonely Planey phrase books, haha.

I read a lot in Swedish. Even if I can't understand something, I read Wikipedia articles, news sites, everything I can get my hands on. I have a book I bought in Swedish. It's a lecture on the Bible which I don't care much for but it helps me a lot with Swedish (except that it was printed in 1922 so it's more of a keepsake now).

But if I find a word I don't know, I look it up or I ask. I take notes.

I listen to songs and read the lyrics while I listen to them.

I talk to everyone I can in Swedish (which isn't many people, not really useful where I live) and I'm slowly getting over my fear of errors.

When I was first learning, I used to force myself to think in Swedish. The first two verbs I learned were laga mat and köra bil. So I'd be in the car with my mom (this was 9 years ago) and every time I saw a man driving a car, I'd think to myself "mannen kör bil" and if it was a woman, "kvinnan kör bil." I did the same thing when I made food and I know it sounds dumb but it actually worked.

Anyway I typed this on a tiny phone screen while I was working so I hope it all makes sense and is spelled right. Lycka till!

Super Member
Joined: 06.02.2016

also go to a subtitle website and download subtitles for your favourite movie, to watch along with it. talking swedish books, i got a whole shoe box of swedish love novels for shipping cost on german ebay.

Joined: 09.04.2017

Not bad, I'll have to check out American eBay for stuff like that. But most movies that are dubbed are kids movies

Actually, dubs are better for me because I don't pay attention to subtitles. Even just watching movies made in Sweden works. I really like the show Wallander, the original Swedish version, not the British one.

Super Member
Joined: 06.02.2016

check out the series "broen" a dano-swedish tv crime series. pretty well made. they're just filming season 3.

Joined: 09.04.2017

Oh, I will Regular smile I love Danish too so if it's even partially in Danish, I'll absolautely check it out.